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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

OUTSIDE CHINA                              333

medicine may be mentioned one he wrote on the cure of rheumatism
by the use of nettle, which contains urticin and lutein. It was like
poison ivy, and contact with human flesh caused painful swellings.
According to him, by applying nettle to the inflamed joints where
, rheumatism first started, such pains could be stopped at all points of
the body. He was also a great believer in cockle-burr, a common plant
which grew everywhere, was harmless, and could be taken for any
length of time in any form. (The plant contains fat, a small amount
of resin, vitamin C1? and xanthostrumarin.) He gave a formula for
making a white powder out of this plant by heating the ashes of the
leaves over a slow fire for twenty-four hours. This white powder, when
taken internally, was said to beautify one's skin, making it soft and
smooth "like jade". Other notes deal with hemlock parsley, asparagus
lucidus, and shepherd's purse, which Su called "God's gift to the poor
man", rich in food value and delicate in taste.

Besides such occupations, with the help of his son, he collected his
miscellaneous notes, which became known as Chihlin, or his book of
journals. Of the five Confucian classics, which were divided among
the two brothers, Su Tungpo undertook two. He had completed his
interpretations of the Boof^ of Changes and the Analects* while in con-
finement at Huangchow. Now in Hainan he completed his interpre-
tation of the Boof( of History. The most imposing single task was a
volume of one hundred and twenty-four poems using the same rhyme
words as the poems written by Tao Chien of the fourth century. He
had started "echoing" some of the poems while at Yingchow, but when
he came to Huichow, forced to a life of retirement in a rustic atmos-
phere, he found that his life was almost a complete duplication of
that of Tao Chien, whom he gready admired. By the time he left
Huichow, he had already written a hundred and nine of these poems,
and the last fifteen poems, which were all of Tao's poems that yet
remained unechoed, were completed during his stay on the island. He
asked Tseyu to write a preface for this collection of poems, and said
in the letter: "I love Yuanming [Tao] not only as a poet, but even
more as a human character." This may be said by many admirers of
Su Tungpo himself.

* The Analects is not one of the "Five Classics."